atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5086: The death of research

This article explains why we don't have flying cars. Actually it does not explain that, but it does explain why the pace of innovation has slowed materially in the last few decades.

I will spare you reading the whole thing--I skimmed it myself, as it's rather lengthy--and summarize it:


For context you can read the article, but I found this paragraph to be the money quote:
Common sense suggests that if you want to maximize scientific creativity, you find some bright people, give them the resources they need to pursue whatever idea comes into their heads, and then leave them alone. Most will turn up nothing, but one or two may well discover something. But if you want to minimize the possibility of unexpected breakthroughs, tell those same people they will receive no resources at all unless they spend the bulk of their time competing against each other to convince you they know in advance what they are going to discover.
Money spent on pure research is never wasted; you always learn something new. The problem is, you can't do an IPO based on "something"; if you want to sell stock, people want to know what it is they're buying stock in. It's infinitesimal, the number of people who are willing to toss their own money at scientists and engineers who are investigating the rat's mazes inside their heads.

And nine times out of ten it leads to a negative result. Negative results are scientifically useful but you can't sell them.

This is one of the reasons I think the next real breakthrough will come from some guy operating out of his garage--some guy who enjoys hacking around with physics will notice this or that weird effect, tinker with his gadget to maximize it, and presto! Brand-new science will appear.

* * *

Incidentally, this Hackaday post mentions that the EM drive can theoretically provide 30 kN of thrust for 1 kW--enough to lift 3,000 lbs:
The best research points to the EM drive generating 30kN of thrust for each kilowatt of power dumped into the frustum. Put more simply, one kilowatt (the power to light ten 100 W light bulbs, or run a microwave oven) could lift a 3000 kg object and hover a few feet off the ground.
Who knows?

* * *

The GOP is going to confirm whatever nominee for the Supreme Court Obama selects. Do not think otherwise. There is only the appearance of defiance because it's an election year. Expect the worst from the GOP and you will not be disappointed. Expect anything else and you will be.

And then the GOP elites wonder why Trump is doing so well.

* * *

"How good can your science be if you try to prove your point by ruining your detractors rather than through empirical success?" It's really good because SHUT UP THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED YOU FLAT-EARTH RELIGIOUS NUT that's why!!!

The predictive capacity of climate models has been found wanting, yet we are supposed to accept their validity regardless. Of course!

* * *

"Social justice" destroys everything it touches. That's what it's for; it's a feature, not a bug, in the toolbag of marxist useful idiots.

* * *

What is surprising about this revelation is that there are people who are shocked at the idea that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. I mean, seriously, I have to ask: There are people who didn't know that? Really?

* * *

Kolchak was a good show, and in the 1970s it was appointment TV for my brother and I.

Briefly. As long as it ran, 20 episodes' worth.

* * *

Well, got a few chores and errands to run today, nothing major. Guess I better get after it.

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